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Game development








Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.


By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

Heat Signature’s Launch, And First Player Legend

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

What’s Your Fault?

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

One Desperate Battle In FTL

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing On The Internet

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

A Different Way To Level Up

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood Money And Sex

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

‘Meet The Scout’ Imminent

It was shown at GDC. If you’re as geeky as me, don’t click this link unless you demand proof – it’s mildly spoiling. The Scout’s been my favourite personality ever since the “I broke your stupid crap, moron” incident, so I can’t freakin’ wait.

Update: it’s probably going to be the week of the 10th, or the week after that. Valve Time, naturally.

C Livingston: Ooh, know what would be the coolest? If Valve released the Meet the Scout movie or the Meet the Pyro movie and it turned out, halfway through, that it was really the Meet the Spy movie. That'd be so boss.

Tom Francis: That would be boss. That would be boss HOG.

ImperialCreed: Seconded Chris. Any ETA for us plebs from your bossom buddies at Valve Tom?

Alek: Great news! It'll be late, of course, but whatever. It happens all the time.

Unrelated question: Pentadact, I'm not exactly expecting a yes, but have you ever personally played some Phoenix Wright games? It's a Nintendo DS Game about being a defense attorney and, well, defending innocent people in court cases. I think it might be your cup of tea (hur) so, I would recommend you try it when you get the chance.

Tom Francis: Two to three weeks, apparently. They want to get the French and German versions ready and put them all out at once this time.

Alek: Nope. I suspect it would, but I don't have a DS. I keep waiting for a time when there's not enough on PC to entertain me, and when I somehow feel I'm not spending enough of my life gaming. Then, I'll get a DS for Phoenix, a 360 for N+ and Crackdown, a PS3 for Little Big Planet, and a PS2 for Ico. I guess I could get a TV, too.

Alek: Ha, I suppose I see what you mean. I personally haven't sat down to watch something on TV (at least to watch something specific) in years. Just have the TV for the occasional round of Guitar Hero at a big party.

Usually I would say "emulators are your friend!" but their legality is questionable in most cases. And DS Emulators, in my personal experience, aren't that great anyway.